September 19, 2013

I woke at 3 AM with a thought in my head – one I knew was going to cost me money in the short run but save me time, money, and trouble in the long run. The thought of those two drip line connectors and queen palm roots wrapped around the station 6 main line troubled me all night, so I was up at the computer to see how far queen palm roots typically extended to. Thank God for the Internet – it has the best and the worst of everything. In less than a minute I had my answer:

The Queen Palm’s root base is known as a noninvasive type so the tree is popular to plant around swimming pools and walkways. As the tree grows, the roots spread wider but only usually as wide as the fronds, which can spread 12 feet. The roots are from 1 to 4 feet deep. It is recommended that the tree be watered in a wider area as the tree grows to give the roots the moisture they need.

Noninvasive, huh? Tell that to my main lines and drip line connectors! I knew that I was going about this chewing-gum-and-bailing-wire replacement the wrong way, and while my decision was going to cost us I knew it was the right thing to do.

Mr. Hawkeye showed up at 8 AM sharp with the tools of his trade: shovel, spade, plastic hosing, credit card processor. I told him what I was thinking and he completely agreed with me. It was going to cost around $200 when all was said and done, but the plan, beautiful in its simplicity, was also the one that made the most sense: start from the nearest plant to the right of the lone remaining palm tree (just off to the right of the picture below) and excavate both the station 5 and 6 main lines all the way to the next nearest bush (the ornamental grass on the left). Then bring both mainlines forward two feet from the perimeter of the remaining palm and lay them side by side instead of on top of each other for easy access. Finally, reduce the total number of drip lines from what seems like a gazillion but are really only actually six or seven to three (one for each palm that will reside in the corner), employing adjustable drips to control how much water will be pushed into the deep-root feeder tubes.

An hour later the work was done. The dead queen palm’s stump was removed by a crew including a huge Mexican guy who was at least 6’2, 300 lbs who could wield a pick axe like it was a toothpick and two guys my size who didn’t appear to do much except marvel at the big dude’s abilities until it was time to clean up and move on. Here’s what the finished product looked like when they were done:

This weekend I’ll be clearing all the rocks away from where the two new Queens will be planted and removing the hundreds of root pieces left from that big Mexican dude’s hard work. I’ll be picking out two queens (one medium-sized, one smaller) to be planted to the left and towards the front-left of the existing palm, restoring that area to its once-tropical brilliance. To the right of the existing palm I’ll be planting a single dwarf date palm and some ornamental grass to bring the pool fountain area into symmetry with the rest of the back yard. Before and after pics will be coming.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 10:22 | Comments Off on Leaks – The Sequel
September 18, 2013

We thought we had resolved our water issues out back several months ago, but the last few water bills tell us otherwise. I’ve been meaning to troubleshoot the southeast corner of the back yard because that’s where the ground continues to be wet from back in January, when Carmelo’s guy accidentally set my weekly one hour watering schedule to run daily, inundating the area with so much water that one of our queen palms died from rot and the above-ground pebble-tec border around the pool cracked in several places. Even after correcting the watering schedule fiasco (hereafter known as “the watering schedule fiasco”), the area has never really dried out completely, leading us to believe we still have water issues there.

Why hasn’t this issue been tackled sooner? Simply put, it’s all been about timing and priorities. First there was golf season and my fervent preparation for Goodboys Invitational weekend, and then it got too hot to do any kind of hard manual labor. Then came monsoon season and the wet last two weeks of August. Sure, I could have taken the easy way out and simply paid someone to do it, but without knowing exactly where the leak – or leaks – are, I’d be paying someone to rip up the whole area, and what if they didn’t find anything? You’re potentially talking about hundreds of dollars of work. I had little doubt that a professional would ultimately be needed to plug whatever leak(s) were found, but if anyone was going to find them it was going to be me.

Sunday turned out to be the perfect day for digging and leak-seeking: not too hot, and no rain for the past week. The first thing was to clear all the crushed rock that goes anywhere from an inch to four inches in spots so as to uncover all the drip lines – the idea being to cap all the drips, turn the watering stations on, and see if any water appears. (See, if there’s no water coming out of the drips but water still appears, that would indicate a leak somewhere, either via a leak in the drip lines connections to the main lines, or perhaps a previously unknown drip line whose emitter has blown off. It couldn’t be a leak in the main lines themselves; if that were the case my whole back yard would be under water!)

After clearing the rock with a rake I then carefully used a trowel to follow the various drip lines to the main lines. I had to be careful because there’s not just irrigation underground but wiring for the landscaping lights as well. What a pain in the ass that was:

The other issue is that there are two main lines by which water hits the various drips, station 5 (traditionally called the “palms station”) and station 6 (the back yard plants and bushes). So the only way to test for leaks is to run each station manually for a period of time and see if either results in water spurting from somewhere it shouldn’t. I turned on station 5 to run a good fifteen minutes and watched with great anticipation as to see what would happen (or not). At first there was nothing, but around the six-minute mark I saw the soil getting damp and started digging with my hands until I came to a small puddle and water bubbles appearing at a connection between a drip line I never even knew existed and the main line. I then repeated the same thing for station 6, and damned if I didn’t see yet another puddle appearing, close to same spot as the other leak. Digging carefully around both leaks, I found a veritable maze of old pipe, electrical wiring, and palm tree roots:

What was really disturbing was that the two main lines and the electrical wiring were all laid on top of each other, with palm tree roots intertwined in spots that made it difficult to excavate further without risking making a bad situation worse. A day and $162 later the guy from Hawkeye Landscaping had cleared the whole area, identified two 6′ long stretches of main pipe that needed to be replaced, and re-positioned the main water and electric lines to give them room to breath amidst all the palm tree roots, which had caused the problem to begin with.

I wish I could say that was the end of the story, but after the guy left I was checking all the connections out and turned station 5 back on for a few minutes just to enjoy looking at dry ground. It was then I heard then faint sound of bubbling water – something the Hawkeye guy couldn’t have heard because of the pool filter running while he was there. Once again I found myself clearing a new area of rock, and sure enough, there was more wet ground. Digging down with my hands, I found two drip line connectors (wrapped around each other, no less!) leaking not badly, but enough. So today Mr. Hawkeye will pay another visit – hopefully just to replace the drip lines, but another new replacement stretch of main line might be needed.

What it all boils down to is the original lines were all put in haphazardly and too close to the queen palms when the original three trees were just saplings; over time they got bigger and their root systems expanded out and began competing for the same space. All that moving ground and rock then pressed against the connectors and started dislodging them, unfortunately all on my tab. And there’s nothing I can do about it unless I wanted to cut the remaining queen palm down, excavate the entire area and reposition everything before replanting or just leave the entire area empty. But I love the queen palm and miss having the three palms by the pool fountain – it’s one of the reasons we bought the house to begin with. So all one can do is fix what you can the best way possible and hope for the best going forward.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:59 | Comments Off on Leaks
September 17, 2013

Here’s a picture of Cosmo and Peanut. Cosmo’s an elderly rabbit but demands attention from Peanut constantly even while he steals her food every chance he gets. He’s got big ears, doesn’t he? The house Peanut calls her “safe place” was originally a coffee maker box that was open on only one side, but Peanut has done her own form of renovation by chewing the floor away and creating a new “north entrance” with her teeth as well.

They make a cute couple, don’t they?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 20:33 | Comments Off on Warning: Cute Bunny Pic
September 14, 2013

We’re back to I guess what you would call late summer here in the Valley of the Sun. Just a few days ago I was wondering if the pool temperature had lost its stuffing after the rain and the unusual low temperatures we had earlier in the week, but yesterday and today the daytime temps were back over the century mark, and the pool temp responded nicely – I swam in 89 degree water tonight.

I do think we’ve seen the last of our monsoon for 2013 – there were clouds building towards the northwest and over the mountains earlier in the day that looked like someone to our far north was getting rain, and as the sun was setting this huge white cumulus cloud off to our north all lit up in colors ranging from pure white to gray with a little salmon tossed in for good measure was generating some lovely lighting strikes inside it. It was beautiful to behold and I toasted it with my glass of pinot grigio as a farewell to what has been to date a fairly entertaining monsoon season.

The night was the warmest it has been for a week or so, so after dark I took a walk around the neighborhood just to check things out. Typically, these walks are reserved for the holiday season so I can check out who’s doing what with their Christmas lights, so it was weird to see houses I associate with a particular holiday light display all dark and quiet. There were a lot of crickets chirping tonight, and a couple of times I had to scoot around one hopping on the sidewalk. The moon was just over half full and it was nice to stop by a dead tree and see the moon shining through leafless branches; it reminded me of a November night back in New England.

Returning from my walk I noticed a wind starting to come up so I turned on the Rhode Island classical music station I enjoy listening to over the Internet on the outside speakers and enjoyed a lovely swim under the moon thinking what a perfect time it would be to hear Handel’s Water Music. I didn’t need a towel to dry myself off – the breeze did that all by itself – so I sat with a Sam Adams Boston Lager under the happy patio lights and listened to Mozart. I felt really at peace – the moving pool water reflecting in the landscaping lights and the breeze conducting its own natural symphony played by tinkling wind chimes and rustling palm branches. In that moment in time it just couldn’t have gotten any better – well, maybe if I had lit up an Arturo Fuente, but I just wasn’t in the mood. I couldn’t help but think that only a few months earlier I would be listening to surf music and contemplating my next round of golf or driving range session – now, my clubs still in Georgia and my elbow aching it all seems as if a dream or at least another lifetime ago.

There’s a lot of work to be done out back tomorrow – I’ve got rocks to move and irrigation lines and landscaping wiring to dig up in preparation for what I hope will be the last of the backyard work for quite some time – there’s at least one, perhaps two queen palms to plant and another date palm and some tropical grass to finish the area behind the pool off. And the tiki torches bordering the pool area all need to have their oil replenished for the fall season, so a trip to the hardware store is in order. We’re still a few weeks away before the start of “Arizona winter”, but in these late summer days I’m trying to enjoy our surroundings as much as I can. You’ve got to find your inner peace wherever and however you can find it.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 21:58 | Comments (4)
September 13, 2013

Today felt a little more like summer around here but the shadows are getting long and the backyard plants are loving the inch of rain we got earlier this week combined with the lack of searing heat. The first pumpkins are on display at the local Fry’s and I might just get me a couple this year to add some color to the front portico. It feels like September, so here’s a poem that captures the essence of this month.

“the air is different today
the wind sings with a new tone
sighing of changes
the harvest gathered
a flower, a nut
some mead, and bread
a candle and a prayer
returning the fruits
in thanksgiving
to the grove
and receiving
it’s blessing
Rhawk, Alban Elfed

Hat tip:

What a week it has been. Are y’all ready for the weekend? I know I sure am! The Yankees will be in town to play the Sawx, and I’ll be able to watch the game on the MLB Network tomorrow night over home-made chicken croquettes, french fries, lots of gravy, and, oh, some vegetables.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:48 | Comments Off on September Poem
September 12, 2013

The hits just keep on coming as the “let’s attack Syria now because they gassed a bunch of little children although we have no hard evidence to prove it and oh by the way Barack Obama’s presidency is on the line if you don’t support us, oh never mind let’s let Russia handle it” train continues hurtling off the tracks.

This is devastating. (Hat tip: Instapundit)

The next time you hear Barack Obama or those in his administration express their outrage at children being gassed in Syria, read this and know where their hearts really are.

There are very few times I agree with anything Ron Fournier writes – as a Obama suck-ups there are few in his league – but in regards to the President’s pathetic address on Syria he’s hit the nail on the head. Hey Barack, when you start losing Ron Fournier you know things are going downhill.

This is beyond funny. And so true.

Like many (i.e., most) conservatives, I think it’s time for senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham to retire. The only thing these arrogant clowns are interested in is making headlines, to hell with what’s constitutional or what’s best for the country.

So John Kerry and John McCain are getting their info from someone who lies about their credentials. If she can lie about something like this, it makes you wonder what else she might be lying about.

Slates’s William Dobson says it best: If your foreign policy has to be rescued by a dictator, you are doing it wrong.

And leave it to Vladimir Putin to lecture His Feebleness about American exceptionalism. That’s OK, comrade – Barack doesn’t believe in it either. But if you’re interested in getting a foursome together this weekend…

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 03:34 | Comments Off on Syriana
September 11, 2013

On this 9/11 we remember those who lost their lives twelve years ago, those who were left to die in Benghazi one year ago, and those killed and wounded in the Boston Marathon bombings earlier this year. May the souls of those who have died, and their spirits of those who bear the scars of these attacks, physical and emotional, find repose and peace in God’s light and love.

And may we honor their lives by remaining every vigilant against those who would seek to repeat these kinds of actions against freedom-loving people.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:15 | Comments Off on Never Forget
September 10, 2013

So the whole Syria thing ended up being much ado about nothing. The President’s supporters will laud him for keeping us out of another war, the President’s detractors will rail against how his administration got rolled by the likes of Vladimir Putin, and I’m just amazed at how the Obama administration’s blatant incompetence not only got us to where we are, but in doing how weak America now looks against a reinvigorated Russian presence in the Middle East. I’m glad we’re not attacking Syria, but jeez, did we have to look so bad doing it? To call the White House rank amateurs doesn’t do the word amateur justice.

What a great time to be in Atlantic Canada (I love that term, though not as much as the Canadian Maritimes). Would love to be in Newfoundland on Friday when Gabrielle pays a visit.

Just a great win by the Red Sox Tuesday night. Anytime you can beat the Rays with David Price on the mound, that’s playing October baseball.

No matter how many times it shows up on the DirecTV movie channels, Apollo 13 is a great flick, with not one bad performance to be found. Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise, and Ed Harris have never been better. It’s one of my all-time favorite flicks, as it never fails to inspire and serve as a reminder of what heroes used to be. Nowadays, you’d have lawsuits thrown around like confetti and everyone taking early retirement on their cozy government pensions while being treated for PTSD.

I find this disgraceful. Four Americans, including our ambassador, are dead, and all the folks with blood on their hands – American blood – know how to do is delay, put up barriers, threaten, and obfuscate.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 22:06 | Comments Off on Tuesday Tidbits
September 9, 2013

The strangest thing happened today. We had a ton of rain on Friday night, but Saturday and Sunday were muggy and warm as one would expect in these last monsoon weeks of September. It was wet again this morning with continuous rain until shortly after noon, but the skies had cleared out nicely when I decided to take a short break from work and check out the pool and pool filter. I opened the door and there it wasn’t. For the first time in months.

No heat.

You have to understand that here in the Valley of the Sun, walking outside to heat starting in mid-March or early April is something you just accept, as if seeing shadows on a sunny day or the street lights on at night. You don’t think about it, you just accept it – at least until July when the monsoon raises the humidity along with the heat. So to walk outside and not feel any heat was strange, almost disorienting. It actually felt like late-October.

After all the rain the rain we had my first inclination was to check the pool temp – Friday’s rain knocked the temperature below 90 for the first time in months, and yesterday’s swim was in a perfect 88 degree water. Seeing it was already down two more degrees to 86, and seeing the extended forecast for the rest of this week (no 100 degree days) and lower nighttime temps (all below 80), it’s not hard to imagine this year’s pool season might be ending earlier than usual. I’m not complaining about the rain or the lack of 100-degree days, it’s just strange to see a weather pattern like this com in so early.

Given that next week looks more seasonal there’s a good chance the pool might recover a few degrees before it drops off altogether, but between the days getting shorter and the sun angle leaving the pool in shade longer each day, the writing is on the wall

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 22:42 | Comments (2)
September 8, 2013

What’s really astounding about the media coverage of this possible Syria military intervention thing is, rather than honestly reporting on the pulse of the country and Americans’ reluctance to commit armed forces to yet another Mideast conflict, the story is all about protecting Barack Obama’s presidency and nothing more. If we had true journalists in this country instead of a bunch of elitist, progressive cause advocates, they’d recognize exactly what Gateway Pundit guest-blogger Sister Toldjah writes about:

Is America war-weary? Absolutely. Between Afghanistan and Iraq, the American people are tired of seeing their sons and daughters come home with life-altering injuries, or in body bags, are tired of hearing about how the murders of innocents by jihadis are continuing in both Iraq and Afghanistan, NOT exactly what we signed on for when we went to war in both countries. Are some Americans understandably skeptical about the rationale given by the administration and their allies to date on why we “must” intervene in Syria, considering the massive stockpiles of WMD we thought were in Iraq that were never found there? Yes. Are these the only considerations the American people are taking when it comes to determining whether or not to support action in Syria? No.

The real issue here is not weariness and skepticism due to Iraq. It’s the fact that our celebrity President, the supposed “greatest speech-giver evahh!!!!” hasn’t made a convincing case to date on Syria action, nor have the doves-turned-hawks in his party, nor have his adoring press. Why do you think he’s going before the American people next week? Because the communications/PR effort on this issue has been a disaster from the get-go, and this administration knows it. And they also know the more information that comes out about the Christian-hating jihadi “rebel forces” who oppose Assad, the likelihood that the opposition to using force in Syria will continue to grow.

They say a sign of maturity is learning from one’s past mistakes, and there are no shortage of conservatives who have wised up to Beltway Republican neocons like John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and others who don’t seem to have learned anything from our adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq. They say it’s also a sign of madness when you keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a diffrent outcome. Have we learned nothing from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya? There’s no such thing as limited engagements when it comes to war – you either go all in with the only goal of victory and vanquishing your foe or you don’t go in at all.

To you suddenly-hawkisk, warmongering liberals and progressives in the media and elsewhere who are using Syria’s use of chemical weapons as the excuse to save your incompetent and in-way-over-his-head President’s hide I have only one question: where were you when it came to Iraq? After all, Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against his own people and Iran back in the eighties? I’ll tell you where: calling George W. Bush a warmonger, BusHitler, and worse. So excuse me for calling you all out on your blatant hypocrisy. Your beloved Nobel Peace Prize winning, civilian-killing-by-drone-crazy President has got his butt in a sling, and I and a vast majority of my fellow countrymen aren’t willing to save his sorry ass by making the mistakes we’ve already made in the Middle East worse with more military action against a country where you can’t tell the good guys from the bad guys.

While I think this fellow at a recent John McCain town meeting in Prescott is a little over the top in calling our elected leaders traitors for pushing military action in Syria, he’s not far off the mark in decrying the huge disconnect between Washington and the American people, a gap that grows wider with each passing election cycle. It’s a dangerous game the Obama administration and others are playing by ignoring the will of the American people, because they know if we are ever successful in making our voices heard when it comes to Syria, it will only embolden us further when it comes to Obamacare, illegal immigration, and other actions Washington has taken that do not server the interests ofthe country and its future.

Because, in the end, to Democrats and liberals it’s all about Barack Obama, isn’t it? Never mind the innocent lives that could be lost in any Syria intervention, all that matters is that Barack Obama and his presidency emerge unscathed. It’s both disgusting and pathetic.

Nevertheless, the folks in Washington and the Obama lapdog media know this, which is why they are pulling out all the stops to save the President and presidency from his own reckless incompetence and arrogance.

I say let him sink and his presidency sleep with the fishes. The prospect of taking innocent Syrian lives to make Barack Obama look good just isn’t worth it.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 02:00 | Comments Off on War Weary


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